Monday, December 27, 2010

Roosevelts in the White House

Ike Hoover (White House chief usher) on the Roosevelt White House:
"...Entering upon the daily routine, we found the entire family down to breakfast at eight o'clock. After breakfast the President spent an hour or so in his study, perhaps reading, while Mrs. Roosevelt arranged the details of the day's program. The President went to his office at nine-thirty or ten o'clock, and Mrs. Roosevelt for a walk or shopping, often accompanied by her secretary or one of her many friends.

All returned just about in time for lunch. Those famous lunches! Something indeed was wrong when there were not two or more guests for this meal. To prepare properly for a certain number was almost a physical impossibility, for notice was continually coming from the office that some one had been invited at the last minute, and many times the family and guests had to wait until the table was made larger before they could be seated. The place was really a transient boardinghouse, and how every one got enough to eat was the wonder of the household. Lunch being over, the rest of the afternoon was given over to sport - "exercise" as the President used to call it.

At one time it would be the famous Mike Donovan engaging in battles royal with the President and taking on one of the boys for a side issue. Then again it would be Joe Grant, the famous District champion wrestler, who would spend two or three hours at a time trying his prowess with the head of the nation and giving his points to the younger ones.

It was more to the liking of the family to spend a quiet evening in the library, either playing cards or reading the current magazines. The whole family were fiends when it came to reading. No newspapers. Never a moment was allowed to go to waste; from the oldest to the youngest they always had a book or a magazine before them. The President, in particular, would just devour a book, and it was no uncommon thing for him to go entirely through three or four volumes in the course of an evening. Like-wise we frequently saw one of the children stretched out on the floor flat on his stomach eating a piece of candy and with his face buried deep in a book. The current magazines were entirely too slow coming out, and we were kept busy trying to get them for the different members of the family the moment they appeared. And yet the Roosevelts were early birds, both in retiring and arising. Very seldom, unless something special was on hand, did they go to bed later than ten-thirty. In going out to dinner they made it a rule to make their departure promptly at ten o'clock, then home and immediately to their bedrooms."

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